Even though he is tasked with managing the day to day operations of Guyana’s oil industry, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat has been keen to note that the sector would not be run by “a lone wolf”.
During an interview on local radio show, Guyana’s Oil and You, Mr. Bharrat said the Natural Resources Ministry he has been assigned to is quite large and the oil and gas sector has always been an area that is susceptible to corrupt activities which result in loss of resources which should have been to the benefit of Guyanese.
With this in mind, the newly appointed Minister said the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration is taking steps to ensure there is accountability at all levels. He reminded that President Irfaan Ali had announced that oil and gas would receive oversight from his Office.
“…And that is something I personally welcome as Minister of Natural Resources because I don’t want to act as a lone ranger or a lone wolf. That oversight function adds to the accountability and transparency issue because it is not one person, it is not the Minister of Natural Resources alone sitting making decisions. It is not the President alone, sitting making decisions,” the Minister expressed.
In addition to the scrutiny that would be exercised by the Office of the President, Mr. Bharrat noted that the PPP/C government is working on making the Petroleum Commission a reality while reminding that the draft legislation that would have paved the way for this, remains stuck in a parliamentary committee due to its “innumerable flaws”.
He said, “…The bill was brought to Parliament with a number of flaws that don’t enhance transparency and accountability in this sector. Having this type of Commission means you must have little or minimum political interference or try to depoliticize the sector…”
The official said he is of the firm conviction that politicians should not have total say in the industry. He stressed that all stakeholders including civil society and private sector members should be able to have input into the running of the sector. “…the more people you involve in the oversight of it, the better accountability and transparency you will have,” the Natural Resources Minister said.
Furthermore, Mr. Bharrat said once Parliament is reconvened, the PPP/C government would waste no time in trying to strengthen the Petroleum Commission Bill. “…We have the interest of the sector at heart and… we can get proper accountability and transparency through the works of that Commission.”